The Utah Romance of Pollution, Mormons, Hunters, Hot Springs, Latinos, Nudists, Burners, Cannabis

18 01 2017

As the sun sets in Utah these days in the glorious cold, winter months the sun bounces off the fog and emits a natural pinkish, purplish skyline with the setting of the sun.  It’s what makes Utah unique in its nature.  Postcards are made.  People rejoice in how beautiful the landscape is.  Only China and Los Angeles present similar or more advanced sunsets.  Not because of the mountains or the snow but because China and Los Angeles are the only places in the world that have comparable amounts of smog and pollution to produce such pretty sunsets!  Forget asthma or environmental catastrophes or humans living in a bowl of car and industry exhaust.  The sunsets are so pretty and, ya know what, let’s go outside for a run!  After all, Utah is all about being active, even if being active kills you slowly while doing it in a pollution bowl.  The unawareness and uncaring of what is happening in Utah with the pollution is so far disengaged from people’s minds that it comes across as romantic.  I guess there’s a reason people call Salt Lake City “Little Paris.”  Oh wait, nobody calls it that.


Amidst the greens and purples of the sky in the cold, dreamy, pollution fog I thought it would be fun to venture out to possibly less smoggy areas in Utah and look for hot springs.  One such weekend day produced the most Utah day I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.  There are SO many hot springs in the Salt Lake City area and I wanted to see them all.  A partner and I ventured forth in search of these holy, medicinal mineral waters as we chose one that was a short hike from a road forty-five minutes outside of Salt Lake City near Saratoga Springs.  It was in the mid 30s as we hiked to our warm healing waters.  Upon arriving, the romance jumped up a few notches as the hot springs were basically a muddy, murky warm watered hot pit with little fish in it.  The spring was right next to Utah Lake which in the summer had signs that people should avoid swimming in it.  The woman I was with, a local Utahan I’ll have you know, jumped right in totally naked.  My standards of cleanliness and submitting myself to ill health were being challenged.  My CA elitist alarm was sounding, which is usually a sign that I’m being a snob so I quickly decided to do the opposite and took off all my clothes and hopped in.  The water felt so Utah.


There was about an hour where we were alone and it was so wonderful as the bubbles would come up and our feet would get sucked under by the incredibly hot water that was emitting upwards through the ground.  My partner decided that she was going to put the grainy mud from the bottom all over me.  This challenged all aspects of my thoughts about cleanliness and I quickly tried to avoid her, avoiding at all costs my head from going under or touching anything that was under the water.  The overall experience was nice.  We decided to light up a bowl of fine locally grown Utah cannabis and continued to enjoy the isolation and nature.  Our bowl, canteens, and clothes were right beside the bank on a wooden plank I had found in the bushes so that our things would be easily accessible and not get all muddy and cater to my sense of somewhat anal cleanliness.


A Latin couple joined us in our isolation which is always initially disappointing to lose your own mud pit but very quickly turned into the most romantic thing of all time.  They would sing to each other and the man was teaching his partner how to sing in Spanish.  It was the cutest thing of all time!  They were definitely allowed to stay in our space with us!


Then in the distance we heard nightmarish sounds.  The sounds of squeaky laughter, out of control bush trekking, and total disregard for all space and time.  Yes, it was children.  And not like a few but what sounded like loads of them.  There was no way out.  We were naked in a state you could get cited for it, our cannabis was sitting in plain sight on the shore in a state you could get arrested for it; we were totally defenseless against these little crazy monsters that would at any moment appear from the bushes.  Then, suddenly, they came and it was too late.  We would have to outlast them in the water without emerging forth (the water was murky so you couldn’t tell we were naked at least).  They were definitely a stereotypically white Mormon couple with seven kids!  The hot springs was only, at most, about 70 feet by 70 feet perhaps and very quickly we had screaming children all around us, looking for tadpoles, knocking into us, etc.  How come we don’t live in a state where you can get cited for this!  The parents did show a sense of remorse that they had totally ruined four people’s good time.  They did a good job trying to shush their kids and were very conscious that they were being annoying.  It was funny, actually, to watch parents try to control kids who were excited to be in water.  It was no use but the effort was noticed.  I hate you for being Mormon and having seven kids but thank you for trying to be nice about it and showing a sense of care.  Such is the Mormon way.


More people came and pretty soon we had people all around us.  As they were treating us nice and conversing with us it was funny to think about how they had no idea we were naked and if they knew they might dramatically think differently about us.  On the shore, hunter’s decked out in outrageous military regalia and giant guns would pass our mud pit.  They looked exactly how you would think trashy, hunter people would look.  Very hillbilly and large and not able to move very well and walking staunchly with their guns.  It is unnerving that these types of people are the ones that own guns but such is the way of America.  Not too long after seeing them we would see ducks above in the sky and suddenly hear gun shots being fired all around us.  Nothing was hit but about 15 seconds after hearing the guns all sorts of little bullets could be heard dropping fiercely into the water.  What the fuck!  These hunters walked right past us and even with 7 kids flopping around did not care about firing in our direction and having their fucking bullets land in the water we were in.  It was insanely scary.


The good news is that we outlasted the Mormon family!  They left and people started to thin out but then another family came.  Fuck!  My partner and I realized that we would have to approach this awkward situation at some point but the water is warm and feels good so let’s just keep going with hour number four.  It was quickly realized that this family was extremely different.  The mom jumped in and instantly dunked her head and starting very aggressively putting mud all over her face and hair.  Her kids were way more out of control as they were pelting each other in the face with mud balls, one in which came and hit my partner in the face which definitely produced a pissed off reaction.  However, we felt more familiar and comfortable with the mom because we soon engaged in a conversation with her about Burning Man, which usually instantly makes progressives and non-religious people feel comfortable.  Having this conversation, and being so amazed by the fervor that this woman was putting mud on her, I instantly felt comfortable to start putting mud on my face as well.  My partner and I gave each other mud facials.  It was a progressive connective Utah moment.


Another older couple came into the water and very quickly they were contributing positively to the Burning Man conversation.  Through the casualness of progressive, burner conversation they declared that they were nudists who had a nude wedding!  Wow!  This couldn’t have gone better for us being made to feel more comfortable about our being naked in the flesh.  The tides had suddenly turned.  Now we felt incredibly cool that we were naked and the nudists weren’t even naked.  Such assertively, progressive people we were; a rite of passage for any Utah Non-Mormon.  Burners and nudists make great company, especially for naked people.  We couldn’t have been more pleased with how our day turned out and the wonderful people we were around.


It was starting to turn dark so we ventured our naked bodies out of the water.  Another group of liberalized, younger people were surprised that we were naked and commented enthusiastically, “Wait, is everybody naked in here” and hence the other burners took up the “it’s wonderful to be naked” burner conversation.  Upon leaving we were thanked handily by the nudists for our display of activism.


What a great day!  The many faces of Utah.  I love it!





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